Sunday, May 23, 2010

Joy? Bliss? Huh?

I've been thinking a lot about joy lately. And, of course, when I think about something a lot, it seems that every song on the radio is about it, every sermon is about it, and every book I read discusses it. But they haven't told me what is Joy, and where can I buy it? Isn't that the American solution to everything? I must admit, I have sometimes fallen into that trap; feeling that something is missing, so running out to Barnes and Noble to see if I can find and buy whatever it is, or surfing Amazon and add a few things to my wish list. But I do know that consumerism is not the answer to finding Joy. New things (even the best books) quickly become just one more thing to dust on my bookshelf.

Our library's 'One County/One Book' choice for this year was The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. I read it. It did not answer the question for me: Where do I find bliss? And what is bliss anyway? Wikipedia, (which is supposed to answer all our questions, isn't it?) says:

Bliss can be a state of profound satisfaction, happiness and joy.

Bliss is a constant state of mind undisturbed by gain or loss.

OK. That sounds like something I want. But still, it doesn't tell me where or how to get it.

The group I sing with has been singing a lot of 'joy' songs. They are generally quite perky and fun to sing. They give me that 'state of satisfaction, happiness, and joy.' But all too quickly, the song is over.

I read the scriptures that talk about 'the joy of the Lord.' But again, they are surrounded by scriptures that lead me to believe that such joy is not the laugh-out-loud, smile-all-the-time bliss we all are looking for. I have also been reading several books about creativity and, surprisingly, the authors also discuss this quest for joy we are all on; the search that the American Constitution calls the 'pursuit of happiness.' So, come on people, where can it be found?

Well, I certainly don't have the answer to that question. But I am beginning to see that the second Wikipedia description is closer to what I, at least, need to find to feel that I have found Joy. To have a 'state of mind that is undisturbed by gain or loss.' To learn to be content whatever the circumstances. (Philippians 4:10) And Matthew Fox (Creativity) adds that we need to live a life of gratitude and creativity; a yearning to return blessing for blessing, joy for joy.

So, I have been striving to be content; to be more aware of all of the things around me that I have to be grateful for, and to actually take the time to say Thank You. I have also been making sure I take the time to create, be it artwork in the studio or a sketch in my sketchbook, a photo session in the garden, or a new recipe for cookies. And these things do give me a quiet kind of joy. As Martha Stewart would say, I do think that is a Good Thing. Don't you?

Monday, May 10, 2010


I am not a naturally joyful person. In fact, I am a bit of a curmudgeon, and can find many things that make me grumpy. But I have lately been making myself take note of the little bursts of Joy that I have. In fact, I have been stopping and saying to myself, "THIS makes me happy!", sometimes with a great deal of wonder. I guess springtime is an easier time of year for me to take note of these little bursts of JOY, but it is a habit I want to keep up; this noticing of Joy. I believe God wants me to be happy, and the things that have made me feel that way are little gifts, tiny gift-wrapped presents, from Him.

Here are some of the things that have given me joy lately:

The scent of lilacs. I can't pass them by without thrusting a handful to my nose and breathing in pure bliss.

Fresh coffee in the morning. When the weather warms up, we don't always brew a hot pot every day, but when we do, ....Ummmmm!

Iced tea on the porch with my sweetie.

Iced coffee with a friend at a coffee shop.

Watching the cat roll in the dirt. His joy is infectious.

A tuna salad sandwich with crunchy bits of onion and celery in it.

A lake-wet dog.

New pictures of my grandchildren!! (Best of all!)

Hearing a good song that I haven't heard in decades, so that I had forgotten how much I love it.

Getting out my spring/summer clothes, putting the winter woolens away, and slipping into a well-worn favorite soft T-shirt that I haven't worn for 6 months.

The smell of my oil paints, and the feel of them passing from my brush to the canvas.

A new book by a favorite author.

Sleeping with open windows and a breeze lightly blowing the lace curtains.

A rare spring rainstorm.

Sharing a laugh with my husband or a friend.

Having a bit of weaving or painting look like I hoped it would.

A good hair day.

A sold painting.

May you also have JOY in the many simple gifts that surround us all! And may you stop and capture that moment with your awareness.